Christmas Decorating Essentials Checklist

Ready to deck the halls? This list covers everything you might need to make your holiday decor amazing, from the tree to the Santa plates in the storage closet.

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  • Christmas tree: Decide whether you want to go with a fresh Christmas tree or an artificial one. If you want to be a little bit extra, you can opt for a big main tree and a second tree in your kids' room, the kitchen, or another space in your home.
  • Ornaments: Choose Christmas ornaments with significance for you (such as ornaments from your favorite vacation destinations), or opt for a specific style.
  • Tinsel or other adornments: Be careful with using traditional tinsel if you have pets—ribbon and other alternatives are a safer choice.
  • Tree skirt or collar: Tree skirts come in styles from traditional to modern—and metal or wooden collars are a new option.
  • Tree stand: A tree stand ensures that your fresh Christmas tree stays well-hydrated.
  • Multiple strings of lights: Find out how many lights you'll need to cover your tree—and find places to decorate with Christmas lights, such as putting strings of lights along the mantel, stair banister, or even a battery-operated set in a glass hurricane container.
  • Fresh poinsettias or other Christmas plants: Think Christmas cactus, forced amaryllis blooms, or cyclamen.
  • Fresh or artificial garland for mantels and/or staircase banisters: Choose evergreens, berries, sparkling glass beads, felt balls, or whatever suits your decorating style.
  • Natural accent elements: Think pinecones, oranges, frosted cranberries, cinnamon sticks, and whatever else says Christmas to you.
  • Wide ribbon for tying garland or making bows around vases or planters: Ribbons can also be a festive addition to your tree.
  • Stockings and stocking hooks: Choose sturdy hooks if you really overstuff your stockings.
  • Scented candles: Holiday scents like balsam mulled cider, or citrus will give your home a cozy scent. (And the balsam or evergreen scents can give you the feeling of a fresh tree, even if you've gone with an artificial one.)
  • Holiday linens (tablecloths, table runners, napkins, and placemats): You can go all out with holiday patterns, or opt for classic colors that suit your decorating scheme (and can maybe be brought out for other holidays—like red for Valentine's Day).
  • Holiday serving platters or dishware: Festive salad plates and a few serving platters can put your everyday dishes into holiday mode.
  • Nativity scenes, wooden nutcrackers, or other seasonal decorations that might sit on a table or windowsill: Use your Christmas decoration storage box to house your usual accessories while your holiday ones are out on display.


  • Wreath for front door: You can opt for a fresh evergreen wreath or a pretty artificial one. (You can even DIY a wreath if you're feeling crafty!)
  • String lights for lining the house or decorating trees: Bigger light bulbs will add a more dramatic look to your home.
  • Web lights for tossing over bushes: Forget about winding strings through the bushes—this is a much easier option.
  • Lawn figures: Opt for eight tiny reindeer, angels, or whatever suits your theme.
  • Extension cords for lights and light-up (or blow-up) figures: Make sure the cords you use are rated for outdoor use. And consider pairing them with timers or smart plugs so you can turn them off and on without running outside in the cold to do it.
  • Holiday flags: Choose festive flags that match your holiday decorating theme.
  • Bow or decoration for the mailbox: Look for outdoor-friendly bows that can stand up to inclement weather.
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